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John Bird <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 7 Jan 2011 22:04:41 -0500
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I am the guilty one for bringing up the concept of "Dean of Mark Twain
Studies"--but I do not feel bad about saying that I considered Lou Budd to
be that person. Lou has left us, so I suppose we can leave the dean chair
empty for a bit. 

When I heard of Lou's passing a week ago, I was finishing my MLA paper and
citing him on Mark Twain and the election of 1884.  It was a bit sad to read
that brief quotation this morning, but it also felt good to honor him in
that small way. I remember at an ALA in Washington in the early 1990s when
we had a dinner and Lou was the keynote speaker. In his remarks, he
mentioned me by name and said something like, "And we can thank John Bird
for telling us much that we did not know about Mark Twain and the
telephone." I was astonished but incredibly pleased that he recognized
me--but Lou Budd gave many younger scholars that kind of thrill. As a
legacy, we should all try to emulate him in that.  Who knows how many people
he has nurtured with his generosity and intellectual humility? My small
payback to Lou was to end my book "Mark Twain and Metaphor" with a nod to
him.  My concluding argument was that however we see Mark Twain, we see him
as a metaphor, and we must recognize that we are only constructing a
metaphorical vision of him and his work--but that we should be aware of what
that metaphor is.  I concluded with a long quotation from Lou Budd's "Our
Mark Twain," in which he wrote of Twain's "rounded uniqueness."  I think I
wrote, "Rounded uniqueness.  There--that is a metaphor we can build on."  As
I think about it tonight, that is a metaphor I could apply to our departed
friend, Louis J. Budd. 

John Bird
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